The USAID Trade and Accession Facilitation for Afghanistan project was designed to help Afghanistan harness the enormous trade and investment potential of its strategic location. Building on successes from the first iteration, the follow-on project continued to increase transparency, reduce obstacles to trade, increase public outreach, and build the capacity of the Afghan government to negotiate and implement regional and global trade agreements.
Via this project, Chemonics worked to increase investment, exports, and market-based employment opportunities by supporting trade policy liberalization, customs reforms, and trade facilitation zones. A comprehensive public outreach program increased understanding of and support for a liberal trade regime by the business community and the public. The project paved the way for inauguration of an export one-stop shop, bringing most processing of export documents under one roof for faster and more convenient exports. The one-stop shop reduced the time needed for export processing from several days to one day As a result, increased economic growth was achieved due to more efficient imports and exports, streamlined cross-border trade and customs procedures, and improved consistency and inter-agency coordination for trade policy.
The project facilitated ratification of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement in January 2011; the agreement became operational in June 2011. The agreement allows Afghan trucks to drive directly to huge markets of India, China, and seaports at Karachi, Gwadar, and Port Qasem in Pakistan. Additionally, the project facilitated ratification of the South Asian Free Trade Area agreement and is supporting its implementation. That agreement guarantees 0 to 5 percent tariffs to India, Pakistan, and five other countries for all Afghan exports not on sensitive lists. This is an enormous advantage for Afghan exporters.
- As a result of its partnership with TAFA, the Afghan government made steady progress toward membership in the WTO, participating in its four working party meetings and receiving support from WTO members for a fast-tracked accession
- Provided extensive training to Afghan government ministries and other stakeholders, reaching 5,698 Afghans (3,926 men and 1,772 women), to build their knowledge of regional trade agreements and WTO accession and to improve their negotiation and analytical skills, as well as their technical capacity to formulate sound trade policies to implement new legislation
- Assisted the Afghanistan Customs Department in obtaining $4 million from the Asian Development Bank to purchase modern cargo-handling equipment to upgrade facilities at Spin Boldak and other busy border crossing points
- Streamlined customs procedures at 10 inland clearance depots across Afghanistan, resulting in praise from traders
- Introduced an effective risk management strategy at the customs department to facilitate trade by reducing interventions on compliant traders while more effectively targeting non-compliant traders
- Streamlined customs procedures in Kabul and in Hairatan, bordering Uzbekistan, resulting in elimination of unnecessary import and export steps, yielding a savings of up to $120 per transaction and reducing opportunities for corruption
To learn more, read the Final Report here.
Project Duration: 2009 - 2013